- Intermittent bouts of inflammation occur when a foreign body such as viruses and bacteria or physical agents enter the body and threaten health.
- However, chronic inflammation sometimes occur even without any foreign invader, leading to diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Inflammation can be reduced though by choosing the right foods that can combat it, whereas, poor choices can aggravate the inflammation process and increase one’s chances of developing diseases.
Normally, the immune system becomes activated when anything foreign such as viruses and bacteria, physical agents, microorganisms or chemicals, invade the body and threaten your health, triggering intermittent bouts of inflammation.
However, inflammation sometimes persists even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. When this occurs, inflammation can become your enemy. Several diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s—have all been linked to chronic inflammation.
Nowadays, doctors are learning that one of the best tools to fight off inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from your refrigerator.
According to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, several experimental studies have suggested that food and beverages components may contain anti-inflammatory effects.
Opting for the right anti-inflammatory foods may help you lower your risks of illness, whereas, picking the wrong ones could hasten the inflammatory disease process.
Read on and know the foods that stimulate inflammation as well as those that reduce inflammation.
Foods that promote inflammation
As much as possible, try to cut back or avoid these following foods:
- Refined carbohydrates like white bread and pastries
- Fried foods such as French fries
- Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda
- Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
How inflammatory foods threaten your health
Inflammation-causing foods are generally considered as bad for our health.
“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation,” Dr. Hu says.
Which is not surprising, since inflammation is a major underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases, he added.
Unhealthy foods also play a role in weight gain, which is a risk factor for inflammation. However, despite taking obesity into account, several studies still indicated the connection between foods and inflammation, showing that weight gain isn’t the main cause.
“Some of the food components or ingredients may have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake,” Dr. Hu adds.
Foods that are considered as anti-inflammatory
- Tomatoes and olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale, and collards
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods
Dr. Hu notes in particular the high amounts of natural antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables like blueberries, apples, and leafy greens, which are protective compounds found in plants.
Nuts have also been found in studies to be linked with reduced inflammation and lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols as well as other anti-inflammatory compounds found in coffee may also protect against inflammation.
What constitutes an anti-inflammatory diet?
Following a healthy diet can reduce one’s chances of inflammation. Consider the Mediterranean diet of fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy oils, if you’re aiming for an overall healthy eating plan that is closely similar to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Besides lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can significantly contribute to physical and emotional health.
“A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life,” Dr. Hu suggests.
Via Harvard Health